Every year, usually right about this time, people start to form an idea of who they'd like their favorite NFL team to draft. Their mind turns to thoughts of, "Man, if the Minnesota Vikings (or, you know, whatever team) could just get this guy in the draft, then it would be awesome." It could be a guy that impressed you with their workouts. It could be a guy that you thought looked great during the college football season. It could even be someone from your alma mater that you'd like to see go from your favorite college team to your favorite professional team. It doesn't necessarily have to be a guy that you think will go in the first round. . .it could be any college football player.
It's your "man crush," and when it comes to the NFL and the draft, it's perfectly acceptable to have one. Pretty much everyone has one, or will have one as we get closer to the draft.
So. . .now that the 2013 NFL Combine is in the books and things are probably starting to shape up a bit more, who is your "man crush" at this point of the NFL's offseason?
If the picture didn't give mine away. . .and I'm guessing that it probably did. . .the guy I'd have to go with at the moment is University of Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter. A lot of the press at this point has gone to Hunter's Volunteer teammate, Cordarrelle Patterson, and with good reason. . .Patterson is a fantastic athlete. But not only was Hunter a more productive receiver in Tennessee's offense in 2012 than Patterson was (Hunter had 73 catches for 1,083 yards and 9 TD in 2012 compared to 46/778/5 for Patterson), but it doesn't look like he's that far behind athletically, either.
The 40-yard dash times for the two men were nearly identical (4.42 for Patterson, 4.44 for Hunter), and as you can see from the weigh-in results, Hunter was two inches taller than Patterson, had longer arms, and bigger hands. Neither of them performed the bench press, and Hunter had the longest broad jump of all the receivers in Indianapolis as well as tying for the highest vertical leap with his former Tennessee teammate, Da'Rick Rogers. His playing weight might be a little more than what he showed up weighing in Indianapolis (ESPN's profile page for Hunter lists him at 205, but he weighed in at the Combine at 196), so he's going to have decent size on his side as well.
I also like the assessment of Hunter's potential from college scout and Football Outsiders contributor Matt Waldman that you see to the right there.
(Pretty cool feature, huh? Yeah, I just found out about it from some of our other writers. This is going to get used a lot, I think.)
Now, as Waldman points out in that article and another, separate article, Hunter is a raw talent and is not without flaws. As he also points out, any flaws that Hunter has are also very coachable. He needs to learn to focus and have his hands in the right position all the time, among other things. That's why teams have coaches.
Other than that, from what I've seen from Hunter at this point in both highlight reels (which, yes, I realize are designed to make a player look good) and at the Combine, I don't think he's going to make it to the Vikings' selection in Round 2. Honestly, at this point, I don't think I'd have any problem with the Vikings taking him at #23.
How about you folks? Anyone out there that you want to see end up in purple and gold this April?